Monday, 31 March 2008

Herb Your Enthusiasm (May Just Save The Day)

As you can probably tell this entire postette is just a flimsy excuse to crowbar in the even flimsier headline.
So the roles seem to be settling in now. Whilst H hasn't been able to help out with the heavy lifting, digging, etc he's been quietly getting his head around all of the details which can befuddle me at the best of times. I had a carefree ideal of just chucking seeds in the ground at roughly the right time of year and that was it. My motto was "Bung stuff in the ground and see what shape it comes out". But as Herbet rightly points out, if you don't go about it properly, it most probably won't. Whilst I'm in my element in the role of allotment dealer ("Pallets? You want pallets? I'll get you some pallets mate. You want the sh*t? I'll sort you out, man. What d'you want, man? Pig, cow, horse? Give me your sacks and meet me back here in......") if it were all left to me we'd just have a quaint plot and everyone would refer to me as 'The Sh*t Man' (a title which has been used before of course - I'm looking in your direction Chris French)
So I'm more than happy driving around and filling the car (Batillac) with the excrement of various animals, dragging paving slabs back and forth and back again, digging, enjoying the company of Belfast sinks and all the rest of it. And to compliment this Herbert has been getting his nose into the books and listening to some old skool knowledge ensuring that we actually get something out of it that we can eat.
So that makes me Karate to his Batfink.
And I am totally cool with that.
Increase The Peace
(ps - Is it too obvious that H and I are simply using this blog to save money on text messages? It is isn't it?)

Friday, 28 March 2008

Weak But Still Totally Awesome

Last night I had this dream where Herb and I started a honkjazz fanzine/club night and called them both 'The Beat Route'!
I don't know what else to say.

Monday, 24 March 2008

From Vinyl Archiving to Carrots on the Windowsill....

Ahoy Hoy.... Tales a plenty from The Herb currently laid up in the Limes Court recovering compound (Home).
Great to see the land has been re laid with a new look and may I say for the better.

I agree that the disclaimer was very good (not legal) but it didn't and never would overcome the nagging feeling that something was amiss.

On the brighter side of lighting this has opened a brave new world of reviews, raves and general rants about all things allotmenty and musically ( I can finally tell you about the first gig I went to and how great (crap) it was to see Gene at the cavern in all their Olympic glory, well it is the year for it).
("do you mean that you're going to rant in a musical fashion?" - BB)

Before I progress I would first like to save a few thanks (Brazil you know who you are...)
- The allotment looks sodding (gardening pun) fantastic
- The Blog now has a maturity that I hope any children I bear will show in such a small amount of time
- The original music that has appeared on the page is quite lovely

Now anyone reading this (Brazil) will be thinking that we are simply back slapping each other via the medium of blogging. This is quite untrue and factually incorrect. The sentiment is genuine and if you don't agree let us know and we can waffle for hours about a completely unrelated subject.
("nice use of the word 'waffle' there" - BB)

And now the title of this post becomes clear.

I have over the last months and years been slowly but surely archiving Brazil's rather eclectic vinyl collection. This has been possible as
a) I was given a USB turntable thingy for Xmas two years ago and
b) Brazil left a large selection of vinyl at my abode.
This couple with my prolonged lay off (more about that later) has enabled me to get my teeth into the records and archive away. I think the highlight has been coming a cross the original version of "there but for the grace of god". This was a great house tune in it's day before remixing became a lazy afterthought.
("I have no idea what record he's talking about - seems I have better taste than I thought, who knew?" - BB)
As for my prolonged lay off I can only hope that the professionals at the Hamburg Observatory for modern art may finally have found the cure.
On a more carrotty subject I've started the carrots in a little tray on the windowsill. I fear that I have not given them the best start (far too much water) but hope that by sheer will alone that they will flourish and be gracing a dinnertime in the coming months (compost at best)
In potato news we have now decided on the two types that will provide the highlight of this years potato growing schedule. I will however have to update when they arrive as I have no recollection of what we have gone for. I am sure that they will provide much potato goodness in the future.

Which leads me nicely into the mixes of the future. Tis true that an allotment based mix is in the pipeline. It is a very long pipeline so please be patient and you will get you rewards (maybe)
("Some acts confirmed so far include King Creosote, Dirty Diggers, Beanfield, Cabbageboy and Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds" - BB)
I will endeavor in the coming days to provide another mix of which could well be the greatest compilation of tuneage ever laid into digital form.
It will be tunes I like and own.
Either way they are for you to enjoy and maybe even move the furniture to create a little dancefloor.

Peace out from Herb the Selector.

Friday, 21 March 2008

Finally Some Music! (albeit our own - heh heh, like you expect any more.)

So we'd like to remind you that this blog DOES have a dual purpose.
1) To tell the grand and fantastic adventure of the honkjazz allotment.
(What a tale it is! You'll never believe what happens in season 3.)
2) To talk about music.
We decided to change the musical side of it. As our regular readers (Herbert) will have noticed (helped design) we used to have a single track player over on the left there. At the top. That's it. It featured songs from people that we really like. But we had always felt that it was a bit sneakish providing links (double clicking the song) to a free download of it. We did try to disable the downloadability of the songs to no avail. We weren't trying to scam them with shonky downloads c'est la vie Hooky Street. We want the artists to be supported by any of you who are decent enough to listen to them. There was even a really cool disclaimer about how we're not trying to scam them and how you should all buy their music from the little record company that released it in the first place. It was easily the most legal sounding thing I've ever seen and it was totally awesome.
But we always felt a bit snide about it.
So it's gone, along with the stupid disclaimer that was a load of rubbish anyways.
And in it's place is a player with some music that I helped make. I hope you like it.
And we've put some new weblink lists up. There's a festivals one, a record company one and an artist one. Please have a look. If you have an open mind toward music you won't be disappointed.
(you may be disappointed)

Anyways, I was going to go into each song, giving a detailed description of the instruments used, the location of recording, the ideas, the bloopers, etc.
But that really would be a step too far.

Over on the other side there is the player that's got some of Herbert's DJ mixes. He's actually more of a selector but that's another thing for another day. The mixes are downloadable and are, if I may say, quite flippin' brilliant. He'll describe them better himself but it's basically some of the fattest funk and soul you could ever want to dance to. There's also a nice sprinkling of electro, house, breaks, latin and all of the other things that are quite flippin' brilliant. Top marks H.
So go and get them.
Hopefully this will give us a musical kick up the ass. And lets face it, if you're going to get a kick in the ass it might as well be a musical one.
Coming soon:
- mixes galore I tell you, mixes galore.
- the worlds first allotment DJ mix!! Featuring record companies such as Compost, Fence, Woodland and Worm Interface. I'm not even kidding. Perhaps it could be debuted at a small private dance party onsite with food and a bonfire (gots to love them bonfires) and whatnot. I'm sure we can rig a lead long enough to power it from my flat down the road.
That's a ridiculous idea and it will never happen.
Will it.

- a feature on a fantastic unsigned band each week or month or year or whatever.
- me going to go into each song, giving a detailed description of the instruments used, the location of recording, the ideas, the bloopers, etc.
- some reviews of gigs or festivals or something. No idea really. It might well take the form of reviewing a greasy that did us a nice fry up one time. I can't say right now. That's quite a good idea actually. Branch out into culinary critique. Herb?
So I hope you all get you listening ears on for this stuff. (Good lord, that was almost as bad as the whole "never look a gifthorses mouth in the ass" thing. Jeez.) And remember, if it's written in white digi-ink (or whatever the hell it's called) then it's a link to a site or something. Go clicky.


(oh yeah - the allotment. Last weekend was rained off and this weekend I have my sister and a brood of supersonic children coming to stay. If I can buy enough Dr. Pepper I might get them all buzzed up and set to work on the weeding. Could clear the whole site. Anyway, a few things have been going on involving free gifts, freecycle, free love, De La Soul and paving slabs.
Which is nice.)

Thursday, 6 March 2008

honkjazz - The Allotment Part 9

Saturday 1st March, 2008

David Bowie once sang "Is there life on Mars?". The answer is, of course, no. If he'd have asked "Is there life on the honkjazz allotment?" the history of pop music as we know it might have been a very different story.
And the answer would be yes.

And there ends the worst possible way I could think of to start a post.
For now.

As you can see from these pictures, things are starting to move.
There's the garlic going mad, three weeks in.

And these are the gooseberry cuttings that Bob and John gave us.
(awful picture quality noted - I'll try harder next time)

Below you can see the first shoots on the raspberry canes which were also donated by Bob and John. (awful picture again - deal with it!)

And lastly we have the chives that my father lifted from his vegetable plot in Hampshire. Do plants know where they are? Oh, by the way Papa, Bob/John (not sure which is which yet) reckons you might have Garlic Chives there.

There's also a lovely bush that a couple of our neighbors have had a go at identifying but no-one's come up with a definitive answer yet. John/Bob said it would be good to keep because then you can take the missus a bunch of flowers once in a while. Flowers apparently being more romantic than runner beans. Who knew?

So at the weekend Herbert made his triumphant return to the honkjazz allotment and walked about like a 1930s school master judging the efforts of his charges in a Harvest Festival (wishful thinking). The progress was good he said. And on that mark he spent a couple of hours burning stuff in the incinerator. Which is nice. We also started the construction of the new and improved compost bin. Although they appear to be an allotment standard, I can't help think that the pallets are letting too much heat out of the compost. I thought that heat was the key to the rotting down process? So we'll build a better bin. And I heartily enjoy my kitchen becoming a stinking paradise of bagged-up vegetable peelings, used teabags and eggshells. No really, I do. In the same way as I quite like the fact that my car stinks of pigsh*t. Again, no really, I do.
And yes ladies, I am available.
(to explain, I picked up a load of pig manure from my friends small holding, that's all, I'm not just into the smell of animal crap.)
I busied myself finishing of bed number 2 and staking in a border around it. So now we have bed number 2.

And there's bed number 1.

Once Herb had left I whizzed down the road to my bosses where I sawed a couple of old doors up and grabbed lots of rubbish and old wood to burn. I do loves me some bonfire.
So I had an ace fire, probably the best fire I've ever made. And burning couch grass weeds is a very, very (worryingly) satisfying thing to do.
And that was the end of the day. I'm not kidding when I say that I probably spent like two and a half hours tending the fire.
Again, ladies.............

Sunday 2nd March, 2008
So today I started off by finishing the new compost bin. I think it looks ace. It's made from old doors. One I found in a skip, one was in my bosses garden rubbish pile and the last two halves (which will be attached by hinges to the top and front) are coming from a door that Herbert's sourced. The compost looks so much happier in here.

We also now have a toilet! Kidding (not kidding at all).
So once I'd finished that off, transported the compost to it's new home and taken the old one apart (leaving the pallets for our neighbors Mike and Sally to use as bed edging), I started on a series of fantastic tasks.
Firstly, I started to empty the giant dumpy bag full of roots into rubble sacks in preparation for a run to the dump. I then raised the two other Belfast sinks onto bricks (which is a really stupid thing to do re: catastrophic back pain) and put down a few paving stones.

Once that was done I marked out the shed level line with pegs and string and dashed home to grab a flask of tea before starting bed number 3. I had my little radio with me so I listened to Everton crush the hapless Portsmouth and got about a third done before rain stopped play at 5:30pm.
So another good weekend. Herbert is getting some cracking inside knowledge about spuds and he's bought some little carrot starting kits so we'll be getting those on the go soon. We've pretty much decided what we want to grow and sussed a rough time for planting each. We'll look into the soil types, planting techniques, protecting them against pests, maintaining the weed patrols, investigating crop rotation patterns, gathering materials and manure, listening to people and having a laugh.
Nice eh?

Saturday, 1 March 2008

honkjazz - The Allotment! Part 8

Saturday 22nd February, 2008
This weekend I was joined by two guests, the ever industrious Kazoo and a little pup dog called Ruby. I wasn't really expecting too much work to be done as she has a very limited attention span and is quite mischievous, constantly chewing things, investigating everything, scrounging for food and generally making trouble.
And Ruby can be quite a handful as well.
(hold pose, wait for laugh)
Anyway, I left Haycorn to sleep and took Ruby to the plot where she proceeded to bark at people, dogs, planes, cars, trees, clouds, birds, the wind, rocks, grass, bugs, the sky and everything else, like ever. Here she is having fun as pups will do.

Whilst little dog played I set about finishing off the weeding on the first bed. Every single turn of the fork revealed more and more couch grass. But I have finally accepted that the battle against weeds is a constant one and should not get you down. We'll never hoik them all out so we just have to do what we can now and keep at them in the future. And this need to eradicate every single pest is surely a bit silly. Crops will grow whether there's a few weeds lurking about or not. We've certainly given the vegetables a good start. The dumpy bag full of roots is testament to that. Constant weeding will win out in the end.
I think.

Sniplet joined us in the afternoon and brought sandwiches and drinks before getting stuck in to some graft. Here she is working really hard (on rolling that cigarette).

The weather is treating us well. Apart from a brief spell of showers (which sends several other gardeners scuttling off home, much to my disgruntlement) it's nice and breezy with the odd patch of sunshine. Perfect to blow away the cobwebs. The soil isn't as heavy as I'd first thought and breaks up easily under the fork making the weeding quite easy really. The first bed is soon finished so we move onto the second one that Gavbot started a couple of weeks ago and we've soon filled many a wheelbarrow with evil roots.

It feels great to be getting stuck in like this, slowly shaping the plot, taking our time and planning ahead. I seem to have overcome the initial frenzy of excitement and become a lot more relaxed about things. Take the shed malarky for example. As soon as I saw a couple of them pop up on Freecycle I was desperate to get hold of them and mortified when we failed. Now though, I'm quite happy to bide some time, get the base completely sorted and be patient. We'll get our shed eventually. We'll get our shed when the allotment wants us to. We just have to wait for the right sign. And yes, I have been watching too much 'Lost' recently. I guess I mean that it'll happen when it's good and ready. And that's what gardening is all about isn't it? Relaxing, enjoying the pace of life and taking satisfaction from working the land. And Herbert has a very peaceful yet practical attitude towards these things. He's a really good anchor in this project, constantly seeing things in a clearer light than I, bringing me down to earth and speaking sense. Like Jeff and Larry, Morecambe and Wise, Terry and June, Angie and Den and any other number of duos that comprise of a straight man and a frantic, bumbling idiot (who is more handsome and gets all the best lines), we compliment each other. I predict great things for this partnership. Or a violent struggle ending in a supermarket fire, a fake funeral and a new life under the witness protection act. Whatever. Oh and by the way, that Angie and Den montage blew my mind on so many levels when I first watched it. Just wow!
So this new found calmness is only heightening the experience for me. I can't be doing with racing around, getting stressed about stuff. I'll try to retain a little bit of frantic, bumbling idiocy though. I mean, who wants to see a world with Jeff and Jeff, Wise and Wise, June and June, etc. And the relaxed attitude can be applied to growing things as well. As Herb said the other day, if we even manage to grow one spud this year we can be happy. For two chaps with no prior experience we should be really chuffed with the progress we've made. And I imagine we are.

The day finished with an unsuccessful fire and we headed into the countryside for a good stomp before visiting a few pubs to congratulate ourselves on the work done.

And what a merry time was had by all.

Sunday, 23rd February, 2008
I left Grubling to sleep off the previous nights ale (anyone spotting a theme here?) and headed off with Ruby The Naughty Pup. Our plot neighbor John gave us two lovely radishes, a Black Spanish and a Rat's Tail. The Black Spanish was a bit bigger than a cricket ball! I'm not sure if I like radishes but it certainly had a peppery kick and a really strong aftertaste. There it is in my kitchen. You can gauge the size by comparing it to the lemon in the dish behind it.

Whilst we're on the subject of enormous vegetable based gifts (a sentence you don't get to say often enough), my father's newly discovered cousin Geoff had given dad a present in the form of a parsnip that he'd grown in his garden. I'd be quite keen to ask our Geoff exactly what type of manure he's using to produce things like this!

And no, it's not a tiny, little hammer.

So whilst I toiled away Grublet transformed this monstrous root into a wonderful spicy parsnip soup. Which turned out to be a delicious and hearty meal. It also got me all excited about cooking food using produce that hasn't come from a supermarket shelf. Which is nice.
I finished off the first bed by staking in a timber border and spreading a mulch of well rotted horse muck. This made me so happy - finally we have a space that can be used to grow food. Such a small step but a really important one in terms of confidence. And I think it looks quite sweet. As Herbert will later state, it doesn't look like it's been built by an expert. Funny that. But really, it's just the kind of approach we both love. In his own words, "it reflects the people who've built it - a bit knackered and scruffy but full of charm and good intent" (and sh*t. Zing! You can keep that one, H). It will eventually be home to some wonderful potatoes.

Once she'd finished cooking Dink wandered up to the plot and set about a great bunch of tasks. The soil in the second Belfast sink was weeded and revealed three more raspberry canes which she planted alongside the other six. The chives/spring onions/we're-not-really-quite-sure-what-the-hell-they-are from dad's plot were then put into that sink. Three gooseberry cuttings were planted at the back of bed number 1 and everything got a good watering, garlic and all.
And that was the weekend done. I'm really pleased with the progress. I'll take some pictures of the completed bed and post them next time so you can see why.
And we'll finish with a view from our little island. And this makes me happy as well.